What isn’t broken doesn’t need to be fixed. That is the best way to describe the second season of Bridgerton. After the immense success of the first season, it was evident that the show had an identity. Still, because every season would focus on a new Bridgerton child – just like in the books – it was also warranted to wonder if maybe the show would change the formula that had worked so well during its inaugural season.
But it is very pleasing to say that the second season of Bridgerton understood the assignment.
Is it cheesy and over the top? Yes. Does that matter? No.
Why? Because Bridgerton understands precisely what it is. It doesn’t deviate from what it is and needs to be, living in the perfect space that makes it so damn entertaining.
And the second season didn’t have an easy task. Not only did it need to introduce a new love interest, but said love interest had to live up to the one from season one – which made a star out of Regé-Jean Page – but also made us fall in love with a character that most fans of the first season just did not like.
Anthony Bridgerton was not well-liked during the first season, and that isn’t anything against the incredible Jonathan Bailey; his character was simply not one that we could root for. So the second season had a lot to do. It had to make us care for Anthony and develop him more outside of what we had seen during the first season.
Now, whether or not the books do the same is a different topic, but the second season of Bridgerton did something I did not expect. Instead of redeeming or changing Anthony, they introduced someone who challenged him. Yes, they gave him a motive for being the way he is. They gave us context and clues to his demeanour, but they never tried to make us forget or ultimately redeem him; instead, they introduced us to Kate Sharma (Sex Education’s Simone Ashley).
Kate Sharma was everything the second season of the show needed. It was clear from the moment the second season was announced that she was a fan favourite from those who had read the books. It will be interesting to see those same fans react to her on-screen appearance, but as someone who has not read any of the Bridgerton books, Kate Sharma was the perfect balance for the second season.
What makes the second season so good? The relationship and chemistry between the two leads. There are moments during the second season where you hold your breath, where it is impossible not to take a deep breath and pause the show because the tension between the two is so high.
Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley’s chemistry is the main reason to watch this season of Bridgerton. Because even with all of its fault, you forget everything else when it goes back to these two.
It’s a balance that the show struggles with at times, juggling a lot of storylines, but every time it goes back to Anthony and Kate, you can forgive everything else. It’s the classic enemies-to-lovers trope, and for any romance novel enthusiast, it is the best kind of romance.
The show does a great job at slowly building up towards its climax. Sure, it does spend a little too long – probably one episode or two – in the conflict part of the relationship, but it truly doesn’t matter by the end because the ending is satisfying.
If Anthony is the lead, that doesn’t mean the other Bridgerton children don’t have their fair share of storylines. Yes, Daphne’s presence is minimal, but story wise it makes sense. The rest of the children – especially Colin, Benedict and Eloise – continue their storyline that will undoubtedly lead to their own stories. Still, it becomes clear that the show struggles to balance everything else on top of its main story. It’s the one aspect of the show that sometimes brings it down.
Bridgerton doesn’t need to reinvent itself every season; even with the change of leads, it has a formula that works even when it doesn’t. As long as it keeps what makes the show great – the relationships – then it will be in great shape to do what seems to be their intention, adapting all of the book series.